BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's chaotic politics took two astonishing turns Friday when the sister of the king made a historic bid to become prime minister, only to have him shut down her effort as "inappropriate" because it violated tradition and the constitution, which keep the monarchy from getting involved in politics. The royal order from King Maha Vajiralongkorn was read on national television late Friday night, effectively scuttling the move by his older sister, Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, to become a candidate for the prime minister's office after parliamentary elections scheduled for March 24. It was the latest event to roil Thailand, which has been buffeted by coups, political comebacks and street violence for more than a decade.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The top U.S. envoy for North Korea returned from three days of talks in Pyongyang and will meet again with his North Korean counterpart before the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi later this month, the U.S. State Department said. Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Seoul's chief nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon on Saturday to brief them on his negotiations with North Korea. "Our discussions were productive," Biegun said while meeting Kang. "President is very much looking forward to taking next steps.
BANGKOK (AP) — An order by Thailand's king that quashed a bid by his older sister to run for prime minister illustrates the sensitivity of royal involvement in politics in many nations. Most but not all modern monarchies steer clear of direct involvement in electoral politics or governing. Here is a look at the status of royals and government across the globe: ___ THAILAND Princess Ubolratana, 67, declared her candidacy Friday with the Thai Raksa Chart party, part of a political machine that has been dismissed by hardcore royalists as opposed in spirit to the monarchy. It would have pit her against the military's preferred candidate, current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a 2014 military coup that ousted Thailand's last elected government.
BANGKOK (AP) — Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, the first child of Thailand's beloved late king, has always been a bit of a rebel, and on Friday she shook Thai society by becoming the first member of the royal family to say she would enter party politics. But hours later, her younger brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, commanded her to halt her bid to become prime minister, saying in an order read on television that no member of the royal family should be involved in politics. It wasn't the first unexpected turn in a somewhat turbulent life. Ubolratana, 67, was born into royalty but is not exactly a royal princess, which distinguishes her from her three siblings: Vajiralongkorn, 66, Princess Sirindhorn, 63, and Princess Chulabhorn, 61.
BEIJING (AP) — China insists that peaceful dialogue and political means are the "only way" toward enduring peace in Venezuela, the Foreign Ministry said, adding that it backs multinational efforts to reach such an outcome. Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying's statement came in response to a question about a meeting Thursday of an "International Contact Group" led by Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and attended by leaders of 14 countries, including Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden. China is a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, to whom it has lent billions to help shore up his embattled regime. Hua said China "believes that Venezuela's affairs should be resolved by the Venezuelan people under the framework of its constitution and laws and through peaceful dialogue and political means.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Police say 39 people have died and another 27 fallen sick from drinking spurious liquor containing toxic methanol in several villages in the northern India. Senior police officer Ashok Kumar says 26 died in two separate incidents in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 306 kilometers (190 miles) east of capital New Delhi, while 13 others died in the neighboring state of Uttarakhand. Kumar says victims consumed liquor during a customary feast. Police have arrested eight suspected bootleggers while the provincial governments have suspended 35 officials including 12 police. Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in India because the poor cannot afford licensed brands.
BEIJING (AP) — China has reported a new outbreak of African swine fever that is threating the country's vital pork industry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reported Friday the disease had been detected on a farm in Yongzhou in the central province of Hunan, where 4,600 pigs were being raised. Although just 171 of the pigs had died and 270 were found sick, ministry regulations require all pigs on an affected farm must be culled and disposed of and the area quarantined and decontaminated. First detected in August, the disease has killed more than 1 million pigs in China, prompting restrictions on shipments of most of China's 700 million swine, even healthy ones.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tempering expectations, the Trump administration's peace envoy for Afghanistan said Friday that although his talks with the Taliban have produced a tentative "framework" agreement, negotiations are far from finished. The envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, said he hopes a final deal is clinched before Afghanistan's presidential election in July. But he also stressed that many issues remain to be resolved and that it must be a package deal. "We are in the early stage of a protracted process," he said in remarks at the United States Institute of Peace, adding, "We have a long way to go." The envoy, who is a former U.S.
SYDNEY (AP) — Australian police arrested six people after what authorities said Friday was the largest single seizure of methamphetamine in the United States and the biggest drug haul bound for Australia. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said 1,728 kilograms (3,800 pounds) of the drug were seized mid-January at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex along with smaller amounts of cocaine and heroin. The drugs were hidden in metal boxes labelled as loudspeakers. Australian authorities said it was also the largest haul of the drug intercepted while bound for Australia and would have provided around 17 million hits of the substance also known as ice.
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia's leading cybersecurity agency is investigating a breach of the country's federal parliamentary computing network amid speculation of hacking by a foreign nation. Lawmakers and staff in the capital, Canberra, were made to change their passwords on the system after the overnight breach. A joint statement from House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan says there's no evidence that data had been accessed in the breach, but investigations are continuing. "We have no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes," the statement said.